Whether it’s chasing a sense of unadulterated freedom or carving out some precious time for quiet reflection, there are myriad reasons to plan a solo escapade—and it’s now easier than ever. Smart technology and a host of reputable providers have established solo travel as a very viable option among adventure-seekers. All that’s required is an open mind, adventurous spirit, and an exceptional home away from home as a base while abroad. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection welcomes independent travellers seeking to uncover new destinations and experiences. Here, we look at what’s driving demand for solo travel right now and provide some practical tips for travelling alone.

Pursuing unique experiences

The appeal of experiential itineraries has skyrocketed in recent years. Today’s discerning traveller prioritises meaningful, authentic experiences, which go beyond merely checking off the blockbuster sights or kicking back on a beach with a book. For many, travel is no longer synonymous with switching off. Visiting a new place is about engaging with a different community or discovering new philosophies and approaches to life. The rise of the solo traveller is a natural result of this trend. It’s the curious, the culture-keen and the pioneering thinkers that navigate towards solo travel. It’s those wishing to penetrate beyond the surface of a culture, to go a little deeper.

Accordingly, one of the best tips for travelling alone is to be open to fresh opportunities and embrace spontaneity. Whatever it is that excites the senses—be it discovering ancient art, trying your hand at adventure activities or tucking into unusual local delicacies—solo travel enables the adventurer to tailor a trip to their own agenda. For the ultimate in solo sports, sign up for a scenic stand-up paddle boarding lesson when staying at Ashford Castle. The estate’s island-peppered Lough Corrib makes for a stunning introduction to the sport. If it’s culture that calls, take a fascinating rock art excursion through the wilds of the South African Cederberg, where Bushmans Kloof stands as a custodian to more than 130 unique World Heritage sites. Alternatively, for those interested in honing their palate, the exquisite vintages from Red Carnation Hotels’ very own Bouchard Finlayson Winery offers oenophiles enlightening wine tastings facilitated by the sommelier at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. Should the mood take you, seek out the vineyard itself in South Africa’s Stellenbosch wine region nearby—a guided day trip delivers ample opportunity to meet those who cultivate the celebrated wines.

Those familiar with holidaying with a large group—and the challenges that this can entail—no longer need to compromise or consider the endless negotiation of varying preferences. Solo travel liberates the intrepid traveller to celebrate their uniqueness. For those well-versed in the demands of a family life or busy career, a solo trip presents a wondrously liberating experience. Book a plane ticket for one and utilise the time to refocus and get some perspective while away. Indulge in intriguing detours on a whim. Eat whatever you wish whenever you desire. Wake up when best suits you and linger at the beach for as little or as long as you like. The order of business is wholly in your hands.

Hi-tech travel

'Packed with stunning pictures of dream destinations, the social media era creates real inspiration to get out there and do it. Couple this with the change in relationship dynamics—people are moving away from the traditional family unit and breaking free from loveless long-term relationships—and there’s a real impetus for us to travel solo. Indeed, I once took a ‘divorce-cation’ to my long-time dream destination, and it was the greatest gift that I could give myself,' says Carolyn Pearson, CEO and founder of Maiden Voyage, a travel network that caters exclusively to independent female travellers. The platform connects like-minded business women the world over and recommends safe, female-friendly hotels, including all of Red Carnation Hotels’ London hotels. Maiden Voyage also provides self-defence and safety training, company workshops, travel safety eLearning modules and traveller wellbeing webinars, all geared towards female and LGBTQ+ travellers.

Notably more females than males are taking the plunge and venturing out alone. Influenced by provocative memoirs such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love and inspirational tales from friends and loved ones, a wave of well-read and clued-up female travellers is on the move. 'Realising how liberating and empowering solo travel can be, women are increasingly pressing play on a variety of physical and emotional experiences abroad. It’s my personal mission to get more women to travel by themselves. Having visited around 20 countries solo, I can honestly say that I’m really happy vacationing by myself,' continues Pearson.

Thanks to improvements in technology, globetrotters now have instant access to practical information online, making solo breaks safer and easier than ever before. Keep loved ones in the loop with a simple click or instantly translate the local language into your own. Travel advice forums, blogs, online rating systems and ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, harness the power of today’s sharing economy and play to the solo traveller’s advantage. Any list of tips for travelling alone is sure to mention making the most of online advice, in addition to handy travel apps and platforms that connect the similarly minded.

Individually tailored trips

The hospitality industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs of luxury holidaymakers. Select The Milestone Hotel & Residences for your next London sojourn and three members of its expert concierge team are accredited with the prestigious Golden Key Hotel Concierge award. Each of these valued employees helps guests to uniquely tailor their perfect London vacation. Take a leisurely stroll around the regal environs of Kensington Palace or explore one of the British capital’s many famed museums—whatever your whim, it can be accommodated.

Meanwhile, fitness enthusiasts who are visiting London solo can exercise with one of The Rubens at the Palace’s Sports Buddies. From trampolining to tennis, weight-lifting to cycling, a varied range of activities are available at the hotel with a companion for those who prefer some company. Putting travellers’ needs first is at the forefront of each Red Carnation Hotel. Many of our guests return to their favourite hotel each year because our long-serving staff feels just like family. Expect an authentic Red Carnation Hotel welcome, whether you’re arriving for your first visit or returning for your 50th.

Try something different

For most of us, the pace of daily life offers little opportunity to tune out and bask in a rare moment of peace and quiet. Those with a hectic professional life or busy family schedule can seek out treasured tranquillity while away. The same goes for those of us who are usually attached to a phone or laptop screen, with trips abroad offering an ideal opportunity for a social media detox. Instead of checking Facebook or posting on Twitter, lose your way in the beguiling labyrinths of an ancient city or pick up a map from the concierge and head out on a sightseeing excursion. Try out the off-grid lifestyle in a remote, untouched region or, for the more sociable types, join a group excursion.

Situated in the heart of the South African wilderness, yet fitted with smart modern amenities, Bushmans Kloof is ideal for all forms of solo travel. There’s nowhere quite like the tranquil fynbos or the 500 million-year-old Cederberg Mountains for some quality time to reflect and take stock. Untangle the mind from the stresses of everyday life with a gentle stroll through the surrounding bush, practice the art of meditation or enjoy a restorative spa treatment. Those wishing to gain a new perspective on the world, and perhaps themselves, can uncover the area’s ancient anthropological history. One of mankind’s oldest established societies, Bushmen have left a fascinating cultural and spiritual legacy in and around in the outlying antediluvian mountains that dates back 120,000 years. Bushmans Kloof is committed to protecting this remarkable treasure and invites guests on guided tours to introduce them to the history of the indigenous people.

Dining at a table for one might be commonplace in a city, but is traditionally less so on holiday. Yet sampling new cuisines and sumptuous local delicacies is a highlight of any trip, solo or not. There are plenty of ways to safeguard against loneliness when travelling independently. Sit at the bar at The Egerton House Hotel in London and the head bartender will guide you through an entertaining martini masterclass. Secure a scenic table at Hotel d’Angleterre’s elegant Windows Restaurant and gaze out across the lake as you enjoy the chef’s world-class cuisine. Dining out alone offers a rare opportunity to truly savour the menu’s intricacies as well as enjoy the beautiful setting. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection incorporates ingredients from local suppliers and its hotel gardens wherever possible and the dishes that we serve tell a story about our pledge to sustainability.

Giving back while away

Participating in community-based events and environmental initiatives invites solo travellers to feel part of something greater. Visitors to Florida, for instance, can join in local beach clean-ups and attend popular marine conservation days to ‘give back’ during a vacation. The Chesterfield Palm Beach supports the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a not-for-profit facility that protects the area’s sea turtles. Thousands gather at the facility’s adjoining beach every spring for TurtleFest. The vibrant event is well-attended by locals and visitors alike, and marks the start of sea turtle nesting season in the Palm Beaches between March and November. It’s a colourful immersion in Floridian culture. Think delicious street food and homemade craft stalls with an upbeat soundtrack of live music by local bands, in addition to thought-provoking discussions with marine biologists. “Many of us are becoming more mindful of sustainability, and, for some, this translates into our holiday choices as well. It has become socially unacceptable to go on the animal interaction holidays that were once a popular choice, such as riding elephants while in Asia,” notes Pearson.

Travelling solo doesn’t mean remaining alone for the entirety of a trip. It is about trading a conventional reality for another that excites and fulfils. This could be switching the daily routine for precious time out to reflect, or challenging yourself with an adrenaline-charged activity. But, whatever the agenda, a solo adventure encourages the explorer to look at and interact with the world in a unique way. It is the very act of vacationing alone that makes it so special: the serendipitous conversations, the treasured opportunities for self-growth, the insightful observations and life-changing self-realisations. You’ll return from an independent break with a new-found sense of freedom and individuality, and a whole library of vivid memories.

The Red Carnation Hotel Collection welcomes independent travellers to each of its deluxe hotels around the world.